2.25.2012

Book Review: Quitter

I just spent the last four hours reading Quitter, the latest book by Jon Acuff. Mr. Acuff is the creator of "Stuff Christians Like," a blog that features pretty hilarious Christian satire. Don't worry, Believers - it is satire in the nicest, most pleasant form possible. :)

Quitter was recommended to me by a family member. (That sounds bad, but we happened to be talking about the relatively new concept of blogging as profession at the time, and it applied. Anyways - it'll all come together in a minute...) The title hooked me immediately, because (and this is going to sound bad, too) I actually strongly identify with that oh-so-stigmatized word. Now, don't get me wrong - I am no slacker. I was a straight-A student, I still am a perfectionist, and I have been at my current "day job" for almost nine years. I enjoy doing a job right and I've never had a boss who didn't like me. However, ever since graduating high school, I've never felt that the traditional career path was for me. I love to write, and it's all I want to do. I detest the idea of a "9 to 5," I have ZERO desire to become some high-power executive in a pantsuit and heels, and I hold that it is one of the saddest things in the world when an individual devotes forty hours of every week to a job they hate until they can eventually retire at 65, if then.

Now, I'm not some free-spirited non-conformist, swearing off a life with material comforts because I believe that strongly in the value of my basket-weaving. I don't want to sound like a hypocrite. I will willingly disclose to you that I return to my dead-end job each day of the week pretty much so my bills will get paid. If they weren't paying me to show up, I probably wouldn't. This place - The Geek and Inkwell - is where I can't wait to come and work, and (at least as of right now) nobody pays me for the hours and hours I write and tweak and fine-tune to make sure that what fills your vision and your mind when you come here is stimulating and worth your time. I may not know you, but reader, you are so important to me, and I want you to come back over and over. No, nobody pays me to write at The Geek and Inkwell or in the Word document that is currently my novel. But this work is Work - with a capital "W" - my calling and utter joy.

So how to make the most of a life that must include both your dream and the job that pays the bills?

That is where Mr. Acuff's book comes in. If you are at this moment trying to build your dream hand-crafted brick by hand-crafted brick, and it isn't the work that feeds you, but you are pouring your heart into it anyway, Quitter is for you. No, don't get your hopes up - Quitter does not at any point instruct you to run out and quit your day job so you can better shape your dream into reality. In fact, Mr. Acuff will tell you that having 24 hours out of the day purely to work on your "dream job" number one: isn't always helpful, and number two: doesn't always result in the hyper-productiveness you thought it would.

Look, I don't want to ruin it for you - you just need to read this book. But I will highlight my favorite points:

1) You may want to consider working on your dream job in the morning. I feel nauseated already. I am a night owl. My ideal sleep schedule involves crawling into bed at 2:00am and waking up at around 10:00am or 11:00am. I am focused at night, and like to get stuff done then. But when I stay up into the wee hours of the morning, am I always working on my novel? How often is this time spent playing Skyrim or watching the Alien films for the umpteenth time? Hmmm. Quitter reminded me that the day may well have sapped a lot of your mental and physical energy, and there may or may not be enough gumption left to work on that dream job. Acuff offers more reasons, but like I said, I'm not gonna give it all away.

2) Don't get addicted to cultivating an audience. An audience is important, yes, but those two or three readers who keep showing up to your humble little blog are enough to keep you going. And don't they matter? Absolutely. I always told myself that if my future published book changed one life or affected one mind, then the whole darn thing was well worth the tears and the labor and the terrifying honesty. So I've got to be true to my word - I don't write for fame or to gain an audience of millions. That would be nice, but that's not why I write.

3) Don't neglect your relationships. Okay, this one made me cringe. In the past few weeks especially, I feel like I have lived in a cave. I constantly filter every news item or gadget I see to judge whether I should post about it on THE BLOG. I am immensely enjoying managing The Geek and Inkwell, but friends and family are what make life rich. I was just stressing today about whether or not I am going to end up with a pass to Comic-Con, and I was reminiscing about last year, when my dear friend of almost two decades sat at the computer for FOUR HOURS (while I had to go to my day job) so she could get us both a pass. I gave her my credit card number and security code without hesitation or nervousness. How many people can you say that about? It's something. It really is.

So go out and buy Quitter. If you have a passion that you feel could one day also be a profession, I honestly think this book can improve your chances. I am pretty certain it has improved mine.

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